On March 2, the sixth annual Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is taking place at the Sloane Art Library. This year's theme is focused on activism.
The event, which is hosted by the Sloane Art Library, UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries and the Art & Museum Library & Information Student Society (AMLISS), is hoping to create new Wikipedia entries and edits relating to women involved in art and activism.
Kristan Shawgo, a social sciences librarian, is the event co-organizer representing the University Libraries.
“Participants of all skill levels are welcome and encouraged to join us at our edit-a-thon,” Shawgo said. “Every year, we see people with a range of Wikipedia expertise in attendance from first-time editors to seasoned experts.”
Emily Jack is the community engagement and outreach librarian at UNC. Back in 2013, she planned the first edit-a-thon with a theme of African American history in North Carolina.
Since then, there have been many more edit-a-thons covering a diverse range of topics, including women in science, women in psychology, African American soldiers in U.S. wars and Native American history in North Carolina.
“Because Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that’s created and maintained almost entirely by volunteers, there’s a little bit of a self-selection bias that happens, which results from the people who are editing the encyclopedia,” Jack said. “They’ve done some demographic studies and determined that most of those people are male-identified, most of them are white and most of them are relatively wealthy.”
Therese Triumph, the interim head of Kenan Science Information Services at the Kenan Science Library, has been the facilitator and host of the Women in Science edit-a-thon for the past five years. She also attends and supports the other edit-a-thons that happen around campus.
“Wikipedia wants to become the world’s largest place to go for knowledge,” Triumph said. “In order to do that, they need a diverse group of people that can write about a diverse set of subjects. So we want to have everyone included, and that includes different countries, different races and different religions.”
Wikipedia and public libraries have a direct link to one another, Jack said.
“Both are organizations that seek to share information with people, and to make it free and as freely accessible as possible," Jack said. "There’s a natural continuity between the work that we do in the libraries every day at the desk when we’re helping people by answering their research questions, and the work that we can do by putting information out there where as many people as possible can see it.”
Veronica McGurrin, a graduate student in art history and library science, is a past president of AMLISS.
“I hope those who leave this event continue to work on Wikipedia pages, even if it is just adding a citation to a page or adding another reference in the bibliography,” McGurrin said.
The edit-a-thon will be taking place from 3 to 6 p.m., and pizza will be provided. People of all experience levels and gender identities are encouraged to participate.
“When people edit Wikipedia, there’s a feeling of empowerment the first time you save your first edit and see it go live on a site that is the world’s sixth most-used website,” Jack said. “So I hope that people take away from participating in the art and feminism edit-a-thon is that when you see something that is wrong or imbalanced in the world, that you can take action to correct it.”
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